Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McCULLOCH, Ben, soldier, born in Rutherford county, Tennessee, 11 November, 1811; died near Pea Ridge, Arkansas, 7 March, 1862. He was a son of Lieutenant Alexander McCulloch, who fought under General Andrew Jackson in the Creekwar. His education was slight, but travel and extensive reading supplied the lack of early study. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he became an expert hunter and boatman. In 1835, when about to join a party of trappers on a trip to the Rocky mountains, he heard of the e pedition of his neighbor, David Crockett, and other friends, in aid of the Texan revolutionists, and hastened to unite with them, but arrived too late at Nacogdoches, the place of meeting, and started alone for Brazes river, where he was taken ill, and did not recover until after the fall of the Alamo. When health returned, he joined General Samuel Houston's army, and did good service at San Jacinto, in command of a gun. After the army was disbanded he settled in Gonzales, where he engaged in surveying and locating lands on the frontier, and was elected to the congress of Texas in 1839. In 1840-'1 he was engaged in repelling Indian raids, notablv at the sanguinary fight at Plum creek. He subsequently had many encounters with Comanches and other Indian tribes, and with Mexican raiders. When Texas was admitted to the Union, 29 December, 1845, he was elected to the first legislature, and was appointed major-general of the state militia for the western district, comprising the entire region west of the Colorado river. At the beginning of the Mexican war he raised a picked company of Texas rangers, who provided their own horses and arms. His services as a scout were highly valued by General Zachary Taylor, and at Monterey his company, which was sent forward to feel the strength and position of the Mexican forces, opened the fight. He was made quartermaster, with the rank of major, 16 July, 1846, led his scouts on a daring reconnoissance at Buena Vista, and fought with bravery throughout the day. He was afterward attached to the army of General Winfield Scott, resigned his staff appointment on 6 September, 1847, and with his company of spies performed useful services at the taking of the city of Mexico. In 1849 he went to California, settled at Sacramento, and was elected sheriff of the county. He returned to Texas in 1852, and in the following year was appointed by President Pierce United States marshal, in which office he was continued by President Buchanan. He spent much time in Washington, where he interested himself in studying improvements in ordnance and small arms. In 1857 he was appointed, with Lazarus W. Powell, a commissioner to adjust difficulties with the Mormons of Utah, and, after the despatch of troops to that country, was commissioned to report on the condition of Arizona In 1861 he was in Washington, engaged oil his final reports, and when he had concluded his business with the government he hastened back to Texas, and was appointed to raise a temporary force to take possession of the United States arsenal at San Antonio and other posts. After declining the command of a regiment, he was commissioned brigadier-general in the Confederate service on 14 May, 1861, and ordered to take command of Indian territory, he reached Fort Smith, Arkansas, about; the end of May, organized an army in haste, and marched to the succor of Governor Claiborne Jackson, of Missouri. Forming a junction with Gen Sterling Price's Missouri state guards, he encountered the troops of Gens. Nathaniel Lyon and Franz Sigel in the battle of Wilson's Creek, otherwise called Oak Hills. After the defeat of the National forces, McCulloch, having no orders to enter Missouri, refused to pursue them, and surrendered the command to General Price. He took part in General Earl Van Dorn's ineffectual attempt to surround Gem Sigel's force at. Bentonville. At the battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn, he commanded a corps of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas troops, and, while riding forward to reconnoitre, was killed by the bullet of a sharp-shooter. General James McIntosh, the second in command, fell almost simultaneously, and the Confederates, left without a leader, soon fled in disorder. See "Scouting Expeditions of MeCulloch's Rangers," by Samuel C Reid (Philadelphia, 1850), and " Life and Services of General Ben McCulloch," by Victor M. Rose.
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